Tools for Organisation

One of the main attributes that I have developed through my teaching career is self-organisation. I am naturally quite disorganised. I don’t remember the list of deadlines I have coming up. I instantly forget discussions where I have agreed to do something and I am generally just a bit scatter-brained. It has taken me a long time to find ways of keeping on top of everything the job throws at me and I hope I will keep finding more efficient ways to keep myself  focused and aware of what’s coming up. 

Here are a few of the tools I am using to fool everyone around me into thinking I am the most organised person in the world…

What is it?

Planboard is an electronic planner for teachers, accessible on PC, tablet and phone. It allows the user to set up semesters and timetables so that a full planner of all your lessons appears ready to edit lesson by lesson. You can give your lesson a title, enter lesson plan details, set up templates for your lesson plans and upload documents such as powerpoints and worksheets.

You can view a day, a week or a month:

Why I love it:

  • I can access my planning from anywhere as I have the app on my iPad and my phone. It is also one of the first websites I open on my computer when I get into school in the morning.
  • I do not have to keep filling in my timetabled classes every week as I would in a paper planner. Once the timetable is complete, the planner is automatically generated for the whole term.
  • I am a firm believer in planning a lesson only after the previous one has been taught. However, I can see the clear benefits of roughly mapping out a sequence of lessons for each class. If I have a sequence already saved in my Planboard and I decide that one of my classes needs extra time on a particular concept, Planvboard allows you to shift a planned lesson to the next slot with that class. It will also shift any subsequent lesson plans to the following slot. 

I should say, I am not affiliated with Chalk or Planboard and I get nothing for promoting this app- I just think it’s fab!

What is it?

Our school runs Office 365 as its email platform which allows all staff and students access to a bunch of Microsoft apps. Calendar is probably one of the apps most-used by educators but I thought it deserved a mention anyway.

I have always used the Calendar to keep track of meetings with staff but we have recently set it up to handle our equipment requisitions in the Science Department:

Why I love it:

  • I can add individual lesson requisitions any time that they spring to mind, rather than having to sit down each week and come up with a list for the forthcoming week.
  • All technicians can see all requisitions so this has massively aided communication between our technicians and helped us to avoid errors.
  • The Science leaders can see all requisitions from all staff so they can help if there any disputes over equipment.
  • There is a record of everything – no more scrappy bits of paper outlining what we need.
  • It’s free! (With our Office subscription…) 

P.S. I also get nothing for promoting this.


My Bullet Journal

You will either love this one or it will completely baffle you.

What is it?

A bullet journal is whatever you need it to be.

It was introduced by Ryder Carroll as a minimalist, efficient system to keep you organised however the concept has grown a bit of a cult following on the internet recently, and has drastically evolved from the initial idea of rapid-logging, to the incredibly beautiful artsy journals of Instagram. 

For me, my bullet journal is somewhere in between these extremes. It is as pretty as I can manage bearing in mind that I do not have a creative bone in my body, but it is efficient. I am willing to spend the time practising my hand lettering and trying out different pens because I find it therapeutic and I think anything we can do to improve our own well-being and mental health can only be a good thing. I have spent a few days of my Summer holidays setting up my journal and without the pressure of school I have been able to include some extra pages which are useful to me, but which others probably see as a total waste of time. Some of my bullet journal spreads are inspired by (or completely stolen from) Alexandra Plans – a History teacher with a beautiful school journal!

I am currently using a Traveller’s Notebook that I bought at Wilkos for £5. It has 4 books inside.

My Traveller’s Notebook holds my journal and other books together. The first book is just for scrap notes.
The pink one is my Bullet Journal. Its a Leuchtturm 1917. The next one is for records of alignment meetings.
This one is for recording INSET / CPD notes.

Here are some pages from my current journal:

And this is how I use it week by week:

Other bits I have added along the way:

Why I love it:

  • EVERYTHING I could ever need is in my journal! I have timetables for everyone in the department, mentor lists showing who teaches which class, and curriculum plans showing me where I should be up to with each class.
  • I have turned desperately needed skill development into a hobby that I really enjoy.
  • I just love stationery!

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